Three well-known, veteran legislators — Reps. Ed Butcher, Bill Glaser and Mike Jopek — have decided to hang it up rather than run for re-election this year.
Both Butcher and Jopek had filed for re-election but withdrew on Monday, the final day to file for office this year. Glaser never filed this year.
Glaser, R-Huntley, said the fun is gone in serving in the Legislature because it’s become so contentious.
Butcher, R-Winifred, said he has moved on to other projects, like trying to get a horse slaughterhouse built in Montana under his 2009 law and attracting a nuclear power plant to Montana.
Jopek, D-Whitefish, an organic vegetable farmer, said it’s hard to plant his crops in March and April when he’s serving in the Legislature.
Here’s a closer look at these three legislators and their reasons for not running:
Butcher, 66, is wrapping up a 10-year legislative career, serving six years in the House and four in the Senate. He represents House District 29.
“Basically, what it boils down is right now I’m up to my eyebrows trying to get nuclear energy into Montana,” Butcher said. “The wind thing is nothing but a damn farce and only functions with huge subsidies. The environmentalists have killed coal, and the businesses and the people are going to be destroyed after we lose the power contracts in 2012.”
Butcher also said he’s shepherding his horse slaughterhouse idea by trying to find a market, but is purposely keeping it low-key until construction starts because so much “animal-rights stuff” is directed at him.
“Things are moving along,” he said. “Hopefully they there will be one in the United States, preferably in Montana.”
While he’ll miss the Legislature, Butcher said: “Everybody’s replaceable. I’ve always appreciated the support I’ve had from the people. I know some people will be disappointed that I’m not running again. All good things have to come to an end.”
Glaser, 70, is concluding 20 years in the Legislature, with 12 years in the House and eight in the Senate. He is the longest-serving member in the House, but said it’s time to leave. Glaser represents HD44.
“It’s not a fun place to be,” he said. “It’s really hard to do your constituents’ work over there in the arena that you’re dealing with. Every time you walk away from the place, you walk away with a real sour taste in your stomach.”
Twenty years ago, he said, most legislators liked each other, had their political differences but could work together and respect each other.
“Now everyone’s mad all the time,” Glaser said. “They no longer respect each other. Nobody likes nobody there.”
Glaser said he’s proud of his work on workers’ compensation, school funding, one-time licensing of vehicles, unemployment, various taxes and other agendas.
Although eligible for another term, Glaser said he wants to be work with his wife and children in their “significant business interests” in Yellowstone County.
“This just seemed like a good time,” he said.
Jopek, 45, is not running again from HD4 after three terms.
“It’s pretty simple,” he said. “Life’s full of choices, and it’s tough to be a farmer and be in Helena during spring planting.”
Jopek and his partner, Pam Gerwe, raise organic vegetables and free-range chickens.
“My head was telling me to go to Helena,” he said. “My heart and gut were telling me to go home to the farm. It really was probably the hardest decision I’ve ever made.”
Jopek said he will put in a lot of effort into local food and working with local producers. There can be no national security without local food, he said, praising President Barack Obama’s advocacy on the issue.
He said he’ll miss the Legislature in many ways.
“I’ve found the people of Montana are really good people,” he said. “I know there will be some obvious dancing in the streets. There’s no denying the Realtors and I have gone head-to-head on issues.”
Jopek carved a name for himself as a leading Democrat on the property taxes and reappraisal issue.